2012 Election: What’s Happening in Today’s Florida Primary?

canditateportrait_2DownWe’ve been reminding you that today’s the Republican primary in Florida, haven’t we? In case you missed it, here’s what’s happening, and expected to happen: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s been in the lead for a little less than a week, after suffering a pretty dramatic, double-digit loss in South Carolina. He and his affiliated Super PAC have been running a slew of extremely-negative ads against the former House Speaker and—surprise!—they’re working. Last we checked, Mitt Romney was up by about 11 or 12 points. And that hasn’t changed much. It might be an early night.

But Gingrich swears he’s not giving up. And he’s unofficially got Sarah Palin in his corner, apparently, who went on Fox News recently to say that a vote for Newt is essentially the booth equivalent of “Bulls on Parade.” Please, please watch it:

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As much as Sarah Palin’s endorsement may be the kiss of death for any campaign, the idea that Newt Gingrich may emerge from here as the Tea Party outsider conservative wingnut candidate sort of reminds us of how in 2008, Hillary Clinton quickly became the hero of “blue collar” Democrats, many of whom were angry that this black “elitist” had brainwashed our kids into submission. It just seems off.

The other thing about Florida is how it may play out in November. President Obama is way, way behind down there as the state’s disproportionately suffered from the fledging economy of the past four years. If Romney wins tonight, and eventually becomes the nominee, he could begin building strong momentum for the general, where, like every election in recent memory, the sunshine state will hold significance. The Republican National Committee has already begun sending around emails saying, “Obama is toast in Florida.”

But this isn’t just a two man primary, right? Pennsylvania’s favorite son (except not) Rick Santorum and blimp-weilding firebrand Ron Paul are still totally in this. After spending the end of last week and this weekend with his daughter, Santorum sent a morning email out telling supporters to have no fear—and asked them for more cash. He’s already looking past Florida.

“Yesterday I gave a speech on jobs in Missouri, and hosted a town hall meeting in Minnesota,” it reads. “Today, we will hold a campaign rally in Colorado, and host a primary watch party in Nevada.” He also announced he’s going to be hiring more staff for his later performances and has raised $4 million since his win in Iowa.

As for Ron Paul, he swung up through Maine earlier this week, who’ve already began their caucuses in some districts. The main caucuses will take place February 4-11, but Paul’s stop-by earned him the coveted state endorsements of both Gov. Paul LePage and L.L. Bean heiress Linda Lorraine Bean, the latter of which, in our book, is the only endorsement in the U.S. worth getting.

Polls close tonight at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. EST, depending on the part of the state.

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